The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad will be relocating to the town of Gray in the coming years. The new location will allow for a greater expansion of both the education and preservation components at the core of our mission. The move will provide a permanent and expanded home for the organization including a new museum, engine house, restoration facilities and train ride.
In 2009 the Board of Trustees began the search for a new home after the current property that houses the museum was listed for sale. A request for interest was sent out to over thirty communities around the state and a subsequent request for proposals was sent to those communities expressing interest in hosting the organization. After a thorough vetting process, the Board of Directors selected the Town of Gray as the future home of the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum in the summer of 2011.
Our new location in the Town of Gray will allow for several structures in addition to an expanded right-of-way. The museum and train station will occupy 13,500 square feet, including state-of-the-art exhibits. A replica of Randolph Station, which served the Kennebec Central Railroad and the Togus Veteran’s Center from 1890-1929, will be prominently featured inside. Additional facilities will include a 5,000 square foot engine house and restoration shop, a 12,500 square foot car barn, and over three miles of track. The train will operate on the historic Portland to Lewiston Interurban right-of-way which passes through a wildlife refuge and more accurately reflects the rural landscape of many of the original narrow gauge routes. Outdoor picnic facilities and walking paths will provide additional space for visitors, school groups and tours.
We are currently in the process of raising funds to support construction and relocation to our new home. You can donate to the project online through our Tie It Together Campaign or send your contribution directly to the museum. To stay up-to-date on the latest information, consider becoming a member of the museum. Members receive discounts on train rides, free admission to the museum, 10% off in the gift shop, and a subscription to our quarterly newsletter the Two Foot Flyer. Be sure to check out our News Blog and our social media sites (including Facebook, Instagram or Twitter) for the latest information.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Are you still operating in Portland? Yes, we will remain open and in full operation at our current location through at least early 2017. We may have an opportunity to extend our facility lease with the Portland Company beyond this date. Our current railroad right-of-way is on lease from the Maine Department of Transportation through 2023 with an option to renew beyond that date. This will allow us to continue train operations in Portland for many years to come.
Why are you moving? We lease our current facility and rail yard from the Portland Company. The recent sale and development of this waterfront parcel created an opportunity for Maine Narrow Gauge to pursue ownership of its own land and museum facilities. The decision was made to proceed with that goal, affording the organization better management and control of its future.
Why didn’t you stay in Portland? The City of Portland was one of the communities who responded to the original request for proposal sent out in 2011. Unfortunately, no property was available along the right-of-way that met the needs of our organization. Further complicating matters, the current right-of-way on which our train operates is not owned by the museum but leased from the State of Maine. These hurdles ultimately made it difficult to pursue staying in Portland. Moving to Gray will allow the museum to own its right-of-way and facilities providing a greater sense of permanency for the future of the organization. We plan to continue seasonal train operations in the City of Portland as long as the continued lease of the railroad right-of-way will allow.
When will you be open in Gray? We are currently in the process of raising funds to support the move. The move will include construction of brand new facilities and railroad tracks at the new location. We have completed architectural renderings for the new location and have secured ownership of the right-of-way. We anticipate a move to the new location will take place within two years and that the total project will be completed over several years.
How far is it to the new museum location in Gray? It is slightly more than 18 miles from our present location to the new site in Gray. The Maine Turnpike offers ready access to our Gray location. We will be located less than one mile off of Exit 63.
What will the train ride be like? Our planned train route will be through a natural marsh and wildlife area. The ride will better represent the rural nature and routes of Maine’s historic two foot lines. The length of the right-of-way is approximately three miles.
Will I be able to take the train from Gray all the way to Portland? No. The train ride in Gray will operate on the former Portland-Lewiston Interurban route to Cumberland, which is now largely overgrown or developed land. Our train will operate on a small part of that route from Yarmouth Road to Long Hill Road all in the town of Gray (1.6 miles).
Will you still continue to host the Polar Express? We will continue hosting the Polar Express in Portland through at least 2016. The use of Ocean Gateway as the train depot for this event gives us an opportunity to continue to host the event in Portland. We are exploring several options to ensure this popular holiday event continues for many years to come.
Where can I make a contribution to support the relocation project? You can donate to the project online or send your gift directly to the museum. Please consider becoming a member to stay up-to-date with the latest information on the relocation project, the museum and to support the mission of the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum as a whole.